His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands have opened the National Monument Park MH17, in the presence of the victims’ families, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Ankie Broekers-Knol, Khadija Arib and Stef Blok.
The monument is an initiative of the victims’ families and consists of 298 trees, one for each victim, planted in the shape of a ribbon and a memorial plaque. Each of the trees has a name tag, the memorial plaque is in the centre of the ribbon and is in the shape of an eye looking up at the sky. The iris of the eye also has the names of the victims engraved. The ribbon of trees was designed by landscape architect Robbert de Koning, while the plaque was designed by artist Ronald A. Westerhuis. The theme of the monument is “to live on.”
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine, claiming the lives of all 298 people on board. The majority of the victims were from the Netherlands (193), but the victims also came from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. When the King and Queen visited Australia last year, Tony Smith, a member of the Australian House of Representatives said, “Australia and the Netherlands will forever be connected in their determination to keep the memory of those 298 innocent people who lost their lives alive.”
Evert van Zijtveld, president of the Airdisaster MH17 Foundation, who lost his son, daughter and parents-in-law, said, “It may seem like a long time ago, but for us, it feels like it was only yesterday. This day is etched into our brain and created a hole in our lives. Our loved ones went on a journey together on 17 July 2014, and with this forest, they are at last reunited symbolically.”
It was recently announced that any criminal proceedings concerning the shooting down of MH17 would be tried in front of a Dutch court, although there are currently no specific suspects.